Legal

Former Pawhuska Five-Man Board members appealing cases to ON Supreme Court

The four defendants in the tribal court cases involving missing Pawhuska Indian Village money want the Osage Nation Supreme Court to hear their cases.

On Nov. 14, attorneys for Theodore “Ted” Brunt, Kenneth “K.C.” Bills, Joe Don Mashunkashey and Frank Redcorn filed notices of intent to appeal with the ON Judicial Branch.

The four appeal notices come in wake of a Trial Court judge’s decision to not dismiss the cases in November. Each of the men face several charges of misusing public funds in wake of a 2012 ON Congressional Office of Fiscal Performance and Review audit report stating that about $806,000 in village revenue generated by the Pawhuska Osage Casino lease is unaccounted for. The ON Attorney General’s Office filed the tribal charges against the men following a tribal police investigation and after the U.S. Attorney’s Office said it would not file federal charges in 2013.

The four defendants in the case filed motions to dismiss their cases in Osage Nation Trial Court in October and those motions were overruled following oral arguments held Nov. 5 with ON Associate Trial Court Judge Lee Stout presiding.

During the Nov. 5 oral arguments, Osage attorney Gene Dennison, who is representing Bills, argued on behalf of the four defendants that the village follows its own constitution passed in 1963 and the Code of Federal Regulations set out distinctly who is to take care of the Indian Village. Dennison also noted there are no punishments listed in the 1963 village constitution.

Jones rebutted stating all of the laws that apply to the Osage Nation apply to the village constitution.

In his ruling from the bench, Stout referenced the 2006 Osage Nation Constitution section regarding the three Osage villages, stating the Constitution is “plain as day, I don’t think I can deviate.” Stout cited the section regarding village governance which states: “The laws enacted by the Osage Nation Congress apply with equal force to all territory located within the jurisdiction of the Nation, including the three villages, and to the extent any action taken by a village is inconsistent with the laws of the Nation, such action shall be deemed void.”

According to the September 2012 OFPR audit report, the Pawhuska village received just over $857,000 from its rental lease with Osage Casino and its predecessor Osage Million Dollar Elm Casino for the period between November 2008 and July 2012.

In conclusion, the OFPR issued a “disclaimer of opinion” in the Pawhuska Five-Man Board’s audit report, due to the lack of records.

The defendants are challenging their cases filed by Jones, which include updated charges in separate amended complaints filed in tribal court on Sept. 4.

According to the amended complaints, the charges stand as:

•           Joe Don Mashunkashey is facing seven counts of misusing public funds. The total at issue in the seven counts is $198,999.87.

•           Frank Redcorn is facing two counts of misusing public funds. The total at issue from both counts is $7,645.

•           Kenneth Bills is facing seven counts of misusing public funds. The total at issue in these counts is $115,208.57.

•           Theodore Brunt is facing seven counts of misusing public funds. The total at issue in these counts is $102,334.53.

An updated timeline of the cases was unknown when the January issue of the Osage News went to print. Check back to www.osagenews.org for any updates on the cases.